Not everyone experiences life the same way. We live in the same environment with the same expectations but different realities. The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force supports people with grounded expertise to participate in solving our community problems. Members of our Community Voices are graduates from the Getting Ahead program.
In 2018, we completed 4 Getting Ahead sessions in Hanover, Kincardine, Owen Sound and Walkerton with a total of 222 graduates. Getting Ahead is a 15 session (3 hours/session), 8 week program designed to help people create their own path for making a stable, secure life for themselves and their family.
A Getting Ahead Program Evaluation (Wahler, 2015) found that “the program … facilitates positive changes in poverty-related knowledge, perceived stress, mental health and well-being; social support, self-efficacy, hope; and goal directed behavior and planning amongst participants.” Read the full study at GA-Program-Evaluation-Results_21 Oct 2015. Four sessions are scheduled in 2019 in Markdale, Wiarton, Port Elgin and Owen Sound funded by Grey County and Bruce County.
In 2018, a new Building Emotional Resources course for Getting Ahead graduates was piloted. The Pilot has been picked up to run for 12 weeks in Hanover in March 2019.
This program is for people who have lost their way at some point and want to get ‘themselves’ back. Getting Ahead graduates use a workbook full of exercises that invite them to reflect on their life and the way they deal with problems, with losses, and with their emotions.
Taking a constructive approach, participants increase their awareness, build more resources and become stronger as they move from one exercise to the next. Read more in Emilia O’Neill-Baker’s article “Build Emotional Resources to Own More of Yourself”.
Bridges Out of Poverty promotes an active partnership between people of different economic backgrounds – based on mutual respect – to address poverty in a systematic way. Since 2015, the Bridges Action Group has been coordinating training with community groups on the Bridges Out of Poverty concepts. In 2018, we provided 2 trainings (39 people) and offered many awareness sessions in Grey County.
The next component of the Bridges Out of Poverty program is the formation of Circles™. Circles™ is a supportive, intentional, reciprocal, befriending relationship comprised of a Getting Ahead graduate and their family who are moving out of poverty (Circle Leader) and 2 to 4 community-based middle class people (Allies) willing to befriend the family and support their way out of poverty.
Since 2017, the Bridges Action Group has been working on a Circles™ design. We have been meeting with Circles Canada and organizations in Ontario implementing various models while determining various cost factors. In 2018, the YMCA coordinated a Poverty Simulation with Circles Sarnia-Lambton and Getting Ahead graduates for professionals in Elmwood. And we hosted a Circles Information Session in Hanover in 2018. We continue to work on a design and funding for the model in 2019.